For fifteen years of my life, I grew up in Nashville, TN. I loved it, and when it was time to pack everything up and move to Tucson for college, I was very sad. It took a long period of adjustment, and some flunking out of stuff, but eventually the growing (moving?) pains subsided and I found myself enamoured of my new home.
I've now lived here for as long as I've lived in Nashville, but there is a mighty big difference; I really only explored Nashville for, say, my high school career. Cars, downtown streets, concerts, jumping into a lazy river off an old rope swing. So, you know, four years at the max. But here... Here I see ghosts of myself.
I moved here at 18, got married at 27, had a kid at 30, and am currently feasting on my slice of The American Dream. That's a lot of history compared to my life in Nashvegas. For example, when I go on my bike rides as my 33 year old self, I pass by the apartment building I lived in with my dad for the first few years of my life here in Tucson. I ride half of the same route I'd take to go buy CDs at Zia Records.
I drive downtown to take my child to the children's museum and drive by the nightclubs I used to dance in until 2am. I work in a building that is across the street from the high rise in which I did temp work, wondering if I would ever land a job here after quitting my previous job in order to take a month-long honeymoon.
There's a scene in one of the world's best movies ever, A Muppet Christmas Carol, in which old Ebenezer Scrooge watches shadows of his younger self move about and study in his old schoolhouse. One comes to life only to fade out as an older version of himself comes into the picture, to fade out again, etc.
I feel that way a lot, biking through these streets, or sitting in traffic and seeing a house I partied at before a bunch of punk wannabes crashed it and ruined everything, as they are wont to do. That's the crazy part, I think. Seeing houses of some semblence of importance to my younger self, my 22 year old self, that are no longer anything in my life as a 30 something wife and mother.
I like it. I can see the appeal now for people who want to, and plan on, living in the same city or town their whole lives. Tucson feels rich with history, my history, and as I pass by my old haunts it's like waving at my past self. Here is the corner of 4th Avenue and 5th Street where I met the love of my life, father of my child(ren - one day). I used to live in that duplex where our friend Pete threw up on a cactus after too many drinks on his birthday. The place on the U of A campus where I used to romp with my old dog, Beauregard. There, on that corner, used to be the laundromat where I once helped an intoxicated homeless person shave his face, as he was too drunk to do it himself.
There's a saying that if you shiver or something, someone is walking over your grave. Now, along those lines but way less morbid, I wonder if I ever had a shiver, or felt someone was looking at me as I sauntered down Congress Street, walking my dog and feeling good in the skin of a 25 year old. Maybe I looked back over my shoulder, glimpsing for a moment a silvery SUV with a slightly wistful mom gazing at me, a shadow of a smile on her face, a fleeting moment of connection between past, present, and future.
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